Two crime-fighting canines share prize as California’s top farm dog

Waylon and Willie, two rescue dogs who helped protect a Tulare County farm from crime, have earned the $1,000 Grand Prize in the third annual California Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Contest.

The award was announced during the 105th California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Reno.

Waylon and Willie are Great Pyrenees and Doberman Pinscher mixed breeds. They were found as gangly puppies in an impoverished area of Tulare County and wound up in an overpopulated animal shelter and then foster care.

Ultimately, the dogs helped rescue—and protect—the farm of Zack Stuller, whose exeter ranch of nearly 3,000 acres of row crops and fruit and nut trees had become a target for criminals. Stuller experienced 14 burglaries in a few years, including one truck stolen three different times and nine catalytic converters taken off trucks in broad daylight. He had tried everything to deter nighttime thefts, including security systems, fences, alarms and even a night guard.

But after Waylon and Willie moved in to a heated, insulated doghouse as “ag security personnel,” the large, loud and happy dogs completely shut down criminal activity. At night, the boys have been caught on camera chasing away potential intruders and carefully scanning the landscape from atop vehicles parked on the ranch.

“If you met them, you would probably say there is not an aggressive bone in their body,” Stuller said of his two crime fighters. “But a bad guy at midnight meeting two, 150-pound dogs standing over 6 feet tall on their back legs with a bark as loud as a freight train, might be persuaded otherwise.”

Besides taking a healthy bite out of crime, the two dogs dubbed “The Outlaw Brothers” also became renowned for their mischief, which has included teaming up to eat a bag of dry concrete mix, delivery packages, Halloween candy and a Fitbit watch that was once destined to be a Christmas gift.

The California Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Contest, sponsored by Nationwide, asked Farm Bureau members to submit photos and a brief story about their beloved dog.

The first runner-up, Gus, a McNab who works as a cattle dog in Amador County, earned $500 for Joel Allen. The second runner-up, Megan, a border collie who herds livestock and chickens in Siskiyou County, earned $250 for Melanie Fowle-Nelson. The third runner-up, Jackson, an Australian shepherd who works at the Sunny Hills High School farm in Orange County, earned $100 for Brian Kim.

The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 29,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of 5.3 million Farm Bureau members.

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